The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has expressed support for the Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood, and the Judicial Council in efforts to purge the judicial arm of government from corrupt officers.
This comes in the wake of a scandal that implicates 12 justices of the superior courts and 22 justices of the lower courts. Over 100 court officials have also been cited, in an investigative piece conducted by journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
In its resolutions at the 2012 Annual Conference held in Kumasi last week, the Association tasked its National Executive Committee “to offer any needed assistance to the Judicial Council to ensure that instant scandal is handled with utmost care to restore the reputation of the justice delivery system.
“[GBA] supports fully, the efforts being undertaken by the Chief Justice and the Judicial Council in the fight to protect the institutional integrity of the Judiciary and to ensure that judges and other judicial officers live above reproach.”
Read below the full resolution:
RESOLUTIONS OF THE GHANA BAR ASSOCIATION PASSED AT ITS 2015/2016 ANNUAL CONFERENCE HELD IN KUMASI
13TH TO 18TH SEPTEMBER 2015
WE, THE MEMBERS OF THE GHANA BAR ASSOCIATION, ASSEMBLED IN ANNUAL CONFERENCE at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, SALUTE the Government and people of Ghana, especially, the Asantehene, OtumfuoOsei Tutu II, the chiefs and people of the Ashanti Region, our hosts.
RECOGNISING the principle of the rule of law as an access to justice and sustainable development.
APPRECIATING the role law plays in nation building and specifically the political and economic progress of a nation state.
AFFIRMING the rule of law as the only mechanism that provides impartial control of the use of power by the nation state.
EMPHASISING the importance for all organs of state to recognise that they are all subject to the law and that any powers conferred on them in the delivery of their roles shall be exercised in a way consistent with the law.
URGING the vast majority of other members of society to accept that they are subject to the law, no matter any disadvantages they might suffer in the truthful implementation of the law.
AVOWING the role of the Legal Profession in the realisation of a clear and enforceable framework of law.
ASSERTING the vital role the legal profession plays in the administration of justice and strengthening the growth of state institutions in our country. 2
RECOGNISING that all economies, just like individuals grow best when all in the society, despite colour, creed, sex et al are committed to the rule of law.
NOTING the role of the Legal profession in championing the rule of law, justice and international relations.
HEREBY RESOLVE AND DECLARE AS FOLLOWS:
MATTERS AFFECTINGTHE LEGALPROFESSION
1. Reiteratestheir resolveof upholding the rule of law and continually promoting an upright Bar and Bench and urge the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the GBA to take all steps to educate and encourage all members of the Bar to desist from any practices that could bring the image of the Association and the Bench into disrepute.
2. Urges the Judicial Service to ensure that persons appointed to administer the law including Judges, Registrars, Court Clerks and Bailiffs, make it their avowed aim to abide by Article 40 of the Magna Carta not to sell, refuse or delay right or justice since the rule of law and access to justice cannot flourish in our society if those who man our judicial system lack moral and ethical integrity.
3. Notes with grave concern the recent reported corruption scandal concerning the staff of the Judicial Service, and directs the National Executive Council to offer any needed assistance to the Judicial Council to ensure that the instant scandal is handled with utmost care to restore the reputation of the justice delivery system.
4. Supports fully, the efforts being undertaken by the Chief Justice and the Judicial Council in the fight to protect the institutional integrity of the Judiciary and to ensure that judges and other judicial officers live above reproach.
5. Entreats the Judicial Council to ensure that relentless and credible reforms are undertaken to promote the principles of transparency, accountability and equity in the administration of justice and that no space whatsoever is given to persons to enrich themselves at the expense of parties seeking their services and also that the extraordinary institutional and decisional independence, immunity, security of tenure and privileged position enjoyed by the bench, are meant for efficient, truthful and effective service.
6. Welcomes the invitation extended by the Chief Justice to all well-meaning persons to assist the Judiciary to restore and rebuild the image of the judiciary through constructive engagements with both the Judicial Council and the General Legal Council on the burning issue of corruption. The Bar appreciates the determination of the Judiciary to reorganise some of its internal structures, its appointing and disciplinary processes, as well as the supervisory mechanisms for administering courts and developing performance evaluation instruments as a means to ensuring that there are credible models for determining efficiency and competence in adjudication.
7. Reaffirms the charge on members of the Bar to play a lead role in shaping public opinion on public and national matters and also to uphold the protection of individual rights and freedoms in Ghana.
8. Expresses concern over the exorbitant filing fees, which risk making access to justice the preserve of the rich, and calls for a drastic downward review of the current fees to make it possible for even the indigent to have easy access to justice, and awaits the decision of the Chief Justice to refer its petition on the matter to the Rules of Court Committee.
9. Commends Government for the construction of the new court complex in Accra and advises that every effort be made to ensure that the maintenance of the new complex is not compromised as is the case of the present courts where most facilities are in a terrible state of disrepair.
10. Implores the General Legal Council and the Judicial Council to increase efforts to improve the ethics of lawyers and judges alike thus deepening the trust in the judicial system and giving citizens engaged in economic and social activities the assurance that they can obtain fair treatment before the justice system.
11. Advocates the need to have certainty in the legal education system, so that all persons seeking to be lawyers are subjected to the same standard of entry into the Ghana School of Law without the need for extra statutory criteria which seek to limit the numbers of qualified students into the Ghana School of Law. The Bar further urges the General Legal Council to put before Parliament a new Legislative Instrument to give legal backing to the changes it seeks in legal education.
12. Encourages members of the Bar to collaborate in the establishment of larger firms to meet the requisite capacity for rendering major local and international legal services in line with modern market trends.
13. Considering the requirements for judicial precedent, the Bar encourages the Attorney-General to enhance its efforts at securing adequate funding for all state apparatus under its ambit especially the Council for Law Reporting.
MATTERS AFFECTING THE NATION
1. Appreciates the relatively peaceful democracy prevailing in the country, much admired around the world, but observes that much still needs to be done for the benefit of the disadvantaged, minorities, the indigent, and the marginalized to have their voices amply heard to achieve the clear correlation between the rule of law, access to justice and development.
2. That in order to be fully functional, the development process of the rule of law must be accompanied by institutional growth and more importantly, a judicial system capable of implementing and enforcing laws and that Judges fair application of rules creates an environment that fosters business activity through certainty of the law and judicial decision-making.
3. Lauds the approach by the Electoral Commission in its effort at resolving the impasse concerning the controversy arising over the integrity of the national voters register. The Bar however cautions against any hasty, poorly informed and premature decisions of the Electoral Commission that could compromise the search for an enduring solution that could advance national interest and further affirms that a trustworthy voters register and effective monitoring of electoral activities underlie public trust and confidence in election results.
4. Acknowledges the private sector as a critical partner in a symbiotic relationship with public sector and calls on the public sector to build the critical infrastructure and framework for the private sector to flourish and to fashion the framework of what is allowable within the context of enlightened and legitimate laws, so that the excesses of the market are smoothened out, usurious and monopolistic influences are curbed, the environment gets protected, and the citizenry becomes the beneficiary of the market forces.
5. Appreciates the challenges faced by the Police in their efforts to keep the peace in the face of the growing indiscipline among the citizenry,buturges the Police to abide by the cardinal principle of using reasonable force even in the face of extreme provocation or danger in the discharge of their mandate. The Bar equally urges the citizenry tobe law abiding and to avoid any acts that could compromise the peace.
6. Condemns the growing spate of examination leakage in Ghana especially the BECE and WASSCE organised by WAEC and calls on WAEC to ensure that these incidents to not recur.The Bar calls on WAEC to make public what led to the leakage of the 2015BECE and measures taken so far to avoid its re-occurrence.
7. Views with grave concern the disturbing recruitment of some Ghanaian youth to join the ISIS and urges the security agencies and civil societies involved in youth development to take urgent steps to curtail this trend.
MATTERS AFFECTING THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
1. Observes that the past three decades have awakened the world to the necessity to strengthen interdependence among nations and peoples, in tackling the afflictions of poverty, ignorance, disease, impunity and inequalities and calls for sustained support for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development due to be launched at the United Nations, especially Goal sixteen which seeks to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”
2. Notes with concern that many nations, spearheaded by the advanced economies, have sought rapid industrialisation without the agreeing on how to deal with the its attendant adverse effects on the environment, which are now upon us as climate change and calls on all countries especially the industrialised ones to promote renewable energy and support a Comprehensive Legal Climate Agreement as the world assembles in Paris in December this year to arrest the impending menace of climate change which is bound to have the most grave impact on developing countries such as Ghana.
3. Notes with concern the gravity of the current refugee and migrant crisis in Europe and the Mediterranean region and calls for the humane treatment of all refugees and migrants by European countries in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law as laid down in UN Treaties and Guidelines and Resolutions.
4. Regret the Coup that was recently staged in Burkina Faso at a time when every effort was being made by the African Union for democracy and rule of law to prevail in all African countries for national development and applaud the prompt intervention by ECOWAS and AU to restore the status quo.
DATED IN KUMASI THIS 17TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER 2015
(sgd) Nene Amegatcher (sgd) Justin Agbeli Amenuvor